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A fantastic photographic depiction of Charles fellowshipping with Jesus, made as a gift for him.



* Editors Note:  The following account may seem like I’m being boastful or prideful.  It is neither.  It is high and worthy praise to my Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is because of His great love for me (and you!) that I have this account to share.  I have done nothing deserve the countless and endless blessings He has bestowed on me.  The only thing I can attribute my incredible great fortune to, is that I gave Him my life, my heart and my service, and trust in Him moment to moment!  The gift that I have received is available to anyone that will make that same commitment to Him!


I returned last night from Atlanta via Charlotte, an 11 hour drive home, and worth every minute of it.  I spent a day and overnight visit with my dear friend and brother in Christ, Charles Stanley.  You may know him as Dr. Charles Stanley, the wonderful teacher in the In Touch Ministries broadcasts, or the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta, or the author of countless, best selling, Christian books.  You may wonder what he is really like?  Charles is my photography buddy, and dear friend.  Allow  me to tell you the story of how that extremely unlikely relationship came to happen!


About 25 years ago I followed Dr. Stanley’s ministry carefully, watching him on his TV broadcasts, reading his books and learning and growing a great deal under his mentoring.  I did not know him, had never met him, other than who he was and what he taught and I admired him greatly.  When I learned that he was an avid photographer I decided to send him a letter and invite him to one of my Great American Photography Weekends, as my guest of course.  I sent the letter and anxiously awaited a return letter from Dr. Stanley.  A few weeks later I got a reply.  It was cordial and “nice” but it was obvious that my letter had been intercepted and Charles had never seen it.  This was a very nice letter that  said , “thanks so much for you kid offer, but Dr. Stanley schedule is very busy and he cannot accept your kind offer at this time.”  I was crestfallen!  The more I thought about it I was little upset.  My wife tiring of hearing me complain told me to grow-up and understand I was being pretty childish about my disappointment.  She is irritatingly right!


Left to right, Tim Olive, Charles’ incredible lab technician, photographer, and master print maker, Charles, and Brad Brown, Director of IT  and In Touch and Charles Photography friend.  Great guys, great friends and I’m honored to be part of their small circle!



I finally got over it, but often asked God, why couldn’t I have met Charles and just shook his hand and said thank you. Later, I had to fly to New Orleans for a photo industry show, and I flew into Atlanta very early in the morning and was sitting at the gate to board my next flight when guess who walked in to the gate area!!??  Yes, Charles walked up, looked around and took a seat directly across from me.  I happened to have a color sample piece on the upcoming The Nature of America book that I had just done with David Middleton and 36 of the most famous nature photographers in America.  I reached it over to Charles and said I think you will find this interesting.  He looked at it for moment and said, who are  you?  I said my name is Bill Fortney, and I’m the co-producer of that book.  Charles said something that stays with me even today as one of the most shocking things I’ve ever heard, he said, “You’re not “the” Bill Fortney are you?”  I said no, that was my father.  He smiled and said I’ve read your articles in the photo magazines and admired your work and have often thought I would like to come to one of your workshops.  Of course, I told him the story of the letter and he was very embarrassed and proclaimed if he had seen my letter  he would have been at the first workshop available!  We boarded the plane and changed seats with some other people and sat together on the flight to New Orleans,  talking and getting to know each other all the way.  We discovered that we were on the same flight back to Atlanta that evening and agreed to sit together on that flight too.



Church bulletin photos from 2014, Tim Olive is assembling for a book all shot by Charles.



On the flight back to Atlanta Charles and I shared on a deep level with one another.  He shared challenges he was facing and I shared my testimony, we prayed and cried for one another. By the time we landed in Atlanta it was like we had been friends for many years.  The relationship has grown over the last 25 years, we’ve gone shooting in National Parks many times together, taught workshops together and I’ve even been a guest in his home a number of times.  If you’re a fan of his ministry and wonder what he is really like, I can sum it up easily.  Charles is the real deal, he is exactly who you hope he is.  I man who loves God, has put God first in his life, and serves him every moment of every day.  He is the most kind and patient person with the countless thousands of people that stop him everywhere just wanting to meet him.  He gives every person the time they need.  He truly lives what he preaches!



My day was topped off when I met Carl Turner of breakfast Friday morning.  What an incredible Christian brother.  We had a great time at a Cracker barrel just catching up and sharing.  I never get to spend time with Carl that I don’t walk away feeling like I’m a better man for it!  What a great guy and friend he is!!!



Now back to my Editor’s Note, I am not telling you this in hope you will be impressed with me being a friend of Charles!  No, I am trying to express how God treats His children.  My Heavenly Father knew how deeply I wanted to just thank Charles for what I had learned from his teaching.  The biggest mistake we make with God is not asking enough!  God wanted to show me just what He can do when our motives and hearts are pure on a matter.  I’m sure God turned to Jesus and said “Watch this!” He overwhelmed me with his love and grace, and gifts.  A friend once said to me, do you never tire of sharing how fortunate you’ve been!!??  I said that is not what I’m doing, I’m sharing how much our God loves us!  The blessings of my life are not unique to me, I know thousand of brothers and sisters that have been equally blessed, that is the business God wants to be in with us, if we will only allow Him to do it. It all starts with submitting to His will.


I have so many things to thank God for; a wonderful wife, precious family, incredible friends, and associates, my health, my love of photography and allowing me to be able to call Charles Stanley my friend and brother!




the pilgrim



Remember Monday The America From 500 Feet Books will go live!






3 days, 20 hours ago 5



My two aerial photography books on America, America From 500 Feet I & II will be at the eBook Store Monday!  America From 500 Feet, the original book was  runaway best seller at $29.95 and the Second volume America From 500 Feet II was released at $39.95.   You can have the best of both, plus a lot of  inside stories on both projects, and new, never before published, images, not in the first two books, all for $9.95!  Why so low?  I made a commitment when I start Cut To The Chase Publications that we would provide the greatest possible value to our customers.  Here are few sample pages out of the new book!




Please come along for the adventure, actually two adventures  of a lifetime, let me share the joy of flight and America with you!


Now I’m going to Atlanta to visit with my dear friend Charles Stanley tomorrow and will not post again until over the weekend, and the it’s off to Nashville for Imaging USA Monday after the Super Bowl!  I will post images from there Tuesday!




the pilgrim


5 days, 15 hours ago 4



Spring is coming, really it really is!  I know it seems hard to believe, with 2 to 3 feet of snow falling up  the eastern seaboard  So while we are warm by the fire, how are we getting ready for that glorious spring set to arrive in a few weeks!!??  May I make some suggestions?


1.  Brush up on your knowledge.  This is great time to read a photography book, or take an online class or two.  Maybe practice your skills.  How long has it been since you tried to hand hold your camera at some really slow speeds, might be a good time to brush up!


2.  Give your cameras and lenses a really good cleaning.  Change and charge batteries.  Test your flashes!  It is time to get your gear ready for Spring!


3.  Look at some truly good work and get inspired!  Spend some time on 500 PxStart going through your magazine collection and photo books and study some of your favorite images.  Pick up one book to devote some time to.  I’m working on Jay Maisel’s new book. Color, Light. and Gesture.  Make it s goal to get some visual artistry neurons firing!


4.  Edit your 2014 work and ask yourself a very serious question;  “Am I technically, and aesthetically doing the kind of work I really want to do?”  To the best of your ability, try to decide where you are falling short.  Make a very short list of what yo;ua re going to do better this shooting season!


Well. that should keep you busy for a while!  I’ll be doing the same thing!!!!




the pilgrim

1 week, 1 day ago 10




If you’re a working pro or an avid photographer you struggle with how to carry it all, and what to carry!  I am a life long member of the bag of the month club, ask my wife!!!  It is a requirement every photographer that visits me here at home, MUST leave with a bag!  I’ve bought, and tried, hundreds of bags in my 46 years as a shooter.  In a strange way, I loved every one of them, I just didn’t love them long enough to stay with them!  Something always finally bugged me enough that I was on the prowl again looking for the perfect bag, backpack, vest, etc, etc, etc. The fact that I still own three rolling bags, five backpacks, two slings, seven shoulder bags all test to the fact that therapy has done me little good!  I have got a new plan, (plan number 496!), and I have high hopes this might work for while.


I was fine until Fuji came out with the 50-140 WR OIS f 2.8 lens!#%$#@!?>&^*%!  Dang you Fuji, why do you have to keep doing this!!!  I love this lens, it is so incredibly sharp, so perfectly smooth in operation and I can actually shoot it handheld and get very, very sharp images! So none of my compact small carry systems will work now because it is not huge, not Nikon or Canon 70-200 f 2.8 huge, but it’s not small like the rest of my wonderful Fuji lenses.  The problem is I’m addicted and it has to be with me, so the hunt goes on for carry solutions.  I tried the Think Tank Belt system some years ago and I couldn’t keep it from sliding down to my knees.  No comment about my backside!   I knew they made the suspenders deal, I just didn’t want to go that route.  When I got the new Fuji zoom, I had to consider it!  I was talking to Susan Scharenburg, one of our His Light Friends, and she said she somehow ended up with a second set of Think Tanks’s Pixel Racing Harness (I have no idea how they came up with that name, that alone is enough reason not to use it!!!).  I traded her something I had in my “no longer need collection” for it and I attached it to my new assembled belt system.  Wow, I should have done this a long time ago!  Actually Chuck Barnes had encouraged me to years ago too, I’m pretty hard headed!  Anyway with the harness the belt system work fantastic and the weight distribution makes it very manageable!  You won’t be invited to any high fashion events, but my last invitation to one of those was….actually never, anyway!






So what can I fit in this system?  (I will detail the pouches in moment)


1.  The Fuji 60mm Micro f 2.4 lens.  (90mm equiv.)

2.  The Fuji Automatic Extension tubes I have three;  2-MCEX 16mm tubes, and 1-MCEX 11mm tube.

3.  Two Think Tank Battery pouches contain four NPW-126 batteries

4.  The Fuji 10-24 OIS f 4 wide angle zo0m.  (15-36 equiv.)

5  The Fuji 56mm f 1.2  moderate telephoto lens  (85mm equiv.)

6.  Fuji X-T1 body with 18-55 OIS f 2.8-4 medium zoom lens.  (27-84 equiv.)

7.  The Fuji 50-140 OIS WR f 2.8 telephoto zoom (75-210 equiv.)

8.  The Fuji 18-135 OIS WR f 3.5-5.6 Super Zoom lens (27-200 equiv.)

9.  Mini flash light

10. Lens Pen

11.  Really Right Stuff screwdriver set

12.  Canon 500 D diopter with 67-77 and 72-77 step up rings (for use on the 18-135 and the 50-140)


The belt system is:


1  The Think Tank Pro Speed Belt V 2.0

2.  Speed Changer Pouch holds; the 10-24, 56 1.2 and at the two battery pouches, plus some small accessories.

3.  Think Tank Stuff It I   Hold the filters, step up rings and small accessories

4.  Another Speed Changer Pouch  Hold the 60mm Micro with extension tubes attached, and the 18-135 and some accessories.

5.  Think Tank Lens Changer 75 (add small amount of padding to bottom)  hold the Fuji 50-140 f 2.8 with hood, tripod mount and foot.

6 Held up by the — (Man do I hate saying this!)  The Pixel Racing Harness V2.0


So there you have it, the whole rig, my the camera and lens which is usually over my shoulder on mounted to my tripod, weighs in at 10.5 pounds.  Not bad for 15mm to 210mm of coverage and some fast glass and macro capabilities!


Just in case you were wondering when I fly, this belt system gets folded flat and stuffed in a big checked suitcase and everything else is transported in a Think Tank Airport Security V2.0 to the location, it also hold my MacBook Pro and other stuff.  I also have a back up body or two in the rolling bag along with more batteries, chargers etc. I still fold up and take a Domke Vest just for walking with a camera and a couple of lenses.  Since I’ve tried and failed many times before at this game, only a few trips will reveal if this is a workable idea,  I’ll be sure and let you know!  I still fold up and take a Dome Vest just or walking with a camera and a couple of lenses.


One last thing, my Fuji X100T is always with me, when I fly in a Nikon backpack I use to transport essentials, the X100T is an essential!!!




the pilgrim


To celebrate mine and Sherelene;s 45th Wedding Anniversary Valentines day here is a special gift for  you guys!